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  1. #1
    Mayor of SimCity Forum Ken's Avatar
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    We need a forum software update

    Some may have noticed that for a while today, the SimCity Forums were broken and spitting out a whole string of error messages. This was caused by software updates my web hosting provider applied to my server today, which included updating PHP to version 5.3, which unfortunately the version of vBulletin we are currently using is not compatible with. I've managed to patch the forums the best I could but what really needs to be done is to update the forum software, which will cost $200. Updating the forum skin will cost another $35.

    While I do have banner advertising on these forums it does not generate much revenue and certainly not enough to cover the cost of updating vBulletin. For the most part, over the years I've run these forums as a hobby and have not been too concerned about them being profitable. $235, however, is a pretty big hit to absorb, especially when I wasn't expecting it and hadn't budgeted for it. As such I'm going to ask folks to make donations to help with the upkeep of SimCity Forum. I'll make some special badge to put on the accounts of those who help keep SimCity running.

    If you are willing to make a donation, please use this PayPal link.
    Ken Barbalace - Mayor of SimCity Forum
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  2. #2
    This is yet another time where I wish I had a job, because I'd gladly donate.

  3. #3
    Mayor of SimCity Forum Ken's Avatar
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    What makes the timing of this forced update really bad is that my main site EnvironmentalChemistry.com got hit really hard by Google's Panda update and my revenues are off by 40% and I have two vBulletin forums that have to be updated. If my ad revenues had been at normal levels, I could have absorbed the financial hit from having to update my forum software. I can't, however, absorb both hits at the same time.

    In general, I think vBulletin is a better forum software package than phpBB, however, their pricing model has gotten quite expensive for the average forum and their upgrade discounts are nearly steep enough. If I could switch over to phpBB, I would but we have way too many posts and I don't want to really screw things up.
    Ken Barbalace - Mayor of SimCity Forum
    My Firefox Theme Classic Compact: Based onFirefox's default theme but uses much less window space
    My Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse collections

  4. #4
    Mayor of SimCity Forum Ken's Avatar
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    If folks can't donate to help out with the care and feeding of SimCity Forums, there is another way to help out. Please help spread the word about SimCity Forums by providing links to it from your own websites, blogs, Facebook profiles, tweet about it on Twitter, etc.

    Another way to help is by sharing links to my main site EnvironmentalChemistry.com. In particular if you have friends studying chemistry in high school or college please tell them about its periodic table of elements.

    The more links these sites get the traffic they will get and thus the more ad revenues they will generate.

    Another way to help indirectly is to help promote my Firefox theme Classic Compact. The more people who download this theme, the higher it appears on Mozilla's popular themes list, which in turn helps generate more downloads. A small (very small) percentage of people who download it do make donations to support its development. Thus the more downloads it gets, the more donations I get.

    Any way you can help is greatly appreciated.
    Ken Barbalace - Mayor of SimCity Forum
    My Firefox Theme Classic Compact: Based onFirefox's default theme but uses much less window space
    My Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse collections

  5. #5
    Do you mean upgrading vB to v4? I know your current v3 software is outdated (the most up to date v3 is 3.8.7, I think), but if that update would be sufficient, I think you can upgrade to it for free (or at least you should be able to).

    If you haven't checked into that, it may be worthwhile, as it's a cheaper solution.I've had isues in the past with stuff like this which a newer version of vB3 has solved.
    Evermore Forums
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    but you can talk about anything there. Put Lancet Jades as your referrer!

  6. #6
    Mayor of SimCity Forum Ken's Avatar
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    The latest version of vBulletin is 4.1.3. No version of vBulletin below v4.1 works correctly on PHP5.3.

    I've gotten SimCity Forum to work again by suppressing the error messages. The errors are still there and I don't know what features are broken or what problems this is causing.

    If I could avoid upgrading I would. Not just because of the expense, but because the update is a royal pain in the ass. I'm in the middle of updating another vBulletin forum and it totally sucks. I'm having to reverse engineer plug-ins that have been abandoned and rebuild its theme template piece by piece. It will probably take me two days of labor to get that other site back to 100%.

    Basically older versions of vBulletin depend on a PHP feature that has been depreciated and is no longer available in PHP. Outside of suppressing the error messages, I've found no documentation on how to fix the problem in existing vBulletin installations. The only fix is to upgrade to the latest version.
    Ken Barbalace - Mayor of SimCity Forum
    My Firefox Theme Classic Compact: Based onFirefox's default theme but uses much less window space
    My Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse collections

  7. #7
    Are you sure the latest version of vB3 won't work, too? They don't just stop fixing issues in vB3 because 4 came out.

    EDIT: According to sources on the support forum, 3.8.7 should work fine with PHP 5.3: http://www.vbulletin.com/forum/showt...-5.3?p=2159378
    Last edited by Lancet Jades; 05-15-2011 at 11:10 PM.
    Evermore Forums
    It's my site. Our focus is on videogames in general,
    but you can talk about anything there. Put Lancet Jades as your referrer!

  8. #8
    Mayor of SimCity Forum Ken's Avatar
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    The problem we are currently running vB3.5.3 and my license does not allow me to download a version of vBulletin that is new enough to work under PHP5.3 correctly. The best version I can apparently download is v3.6.4 which isn't high enough to get past the PHP5.3 issues.

    I know that v3.7.2 was experiencing the same errors with PHP5.3 as I have another vB forum that was on it and I had to make the same modifications to get it running again.

    We're limping along right now as I've been able to suppress the error messages, I just don't know what is actually broken. The only long term solution is to pay for a software upgrade. It sucks, but it will have to happen.

    Unfortunatly, I can't afford to buy the license right now and ad revenue certainly won't pay for the upgrade. What I'm hoping for is that if folks help chip in a little we can spread the pain and I can get these forums back to 100% that much quicker.

    My other choice is to convert these forums over to phpBB, which is free, but that will be a pain in the ass and I'm sure we'd lose something in the process. For instance the journals may not survive the migration, which would totally suck.

    To be honest, we have no good solution to the current situation.

    My hope is to find a solution by the end of June.
    Ken Barbalace - Mayor of SimCity Forum
    My Firefox Theme Classic Compact: Based onFirefox's default theme but uses much less window space
    My Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse collections

  9. #9
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    It looks like we're still on 3.5.3 sadly, I'm thinking why not have a donation run, so a monthly donation goal so for example 3 months to get enough to upgrade, but in my opinion I'd rather use phpBB3, as that is what I usually use all the time.

  10. #10
    Mayor of SimCity Forum Ken's Avatar
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    Any donations I get for SimCity Forum via PayPal will be set aside for a vBulletin upgrade.

    Currently, phpBB has matured enough to be a solid forum platform, but back when SimCity Forum was started, it seriously lacked in features compared to vBulletin. I didn't choose vBulletin for SimCity Forum as I bought this site from Paul (who shows up once a year to make a post) on a lark.

    Migrating to phpBB now isn't a practical option because migration would be a significant challenge and it would screw up all of the existing back links this site has thus hurt any link juice SimCity Forum has.
    Ken Barbalace - Mayor of SimCity Forum
    My Firefox Theme Classic Compact: Based onFirefox's default theme but uses much less window space
    My Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse collections

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